14 May, 2021

Bleeding Ink

Sheela Reddy and photographer Madhu Kapparath witness animus and amiability at Neemrana

Bleeding Ink
Packing 60 writers and literary critics into two buses for a three-day outing to Neemrana Fort Palace didn't seem like a very good idea. Writers and their egos make notoriously bad travelling companions. But three hours later, when they trudged up the rugged path to the picturesquely restored 15th century fort hotel, some 150 km from Delhi, they shared at least two things in common: an urgent desire for cold beer and a disinclination to argue with their "drill master" Himachal Som, the genial and overwhelming iccr chief and coordinator of the International Festival of Indian Literature. Himachal cajoled, bullied, browbeat and humoured the celebrity writers into the docile submission of a school party.

"Who can say no to Himachal!" remarked an unexpectedly affable Vikram Seth at lunch, when someone expressed surprise at him being there at all. The famously reclusive Seth didn't want to come for the conference, of course, but having finished with a teaching assignment at Stanford (a course on creative arts and music) and doing "nothing" in London, he could come up with no...

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